Body confidence, or pandering to a misogynist industry still dominated by wealthy men? I explore the media’s obsession with the early sexual objection of women.
“The effect on young girls and adolescents is most profound, the American Psychological Association (APA) says, because “their sense of self is still being formed“
The hypersexualization of children
Many studies support the idea that the objectification and sexualization of girls in the media are linked. The images we see profoundly affect how we view ourselves and even the way we treat others. Many young girls and boys have grown up being told what ideal beauty standards are before they’ve developed a sense of their own identity. This is often due to the images we see in the media. Exposure to harmful content can have detrimental psychological implications, ranging from eating disorders to false body perceptions, depression, and even suicide. Conversations that focus on sexuality and mental health are often controversial; therefore, I’ll attempt to explore the topic with an open mind since it’s important to maintain a level of none bias and allow the data to do the talking.
Children and teens are often over “sexualized” in the entertainment industry far too young. Many psychologists have confirmed this will have devastating consequences on how they develop psychologically. Young adults may see sexual images of celebrities and base their identity and self-worth on images they see in the media. Before social media, daily content was presented on glossy magazine pages filled with alluring visuals and unobtainable lifestyles. These images have often polarised us because, although we hate them, we also love them. Today these images aren’t just in magazines. They everywhere, in our homes, our schools, and in the palm of our hands, 24/7When we turn a blind eye to the exploitation of young adults, albeit celebrities, we become part of the problem. We encourage society to target young children to exploit their sexuality in return for profit. We may think social media is not a real problem. Still, the media often uses insidious subliminal imagery to send a message to young children, subconsciously telling them that their bodies don’t belong to them.
Who can forget the infamous photoshoot of Miley Cyrus at 15 posing in nothing but a satin sheet? Young children often fall victim to hypersexualization at a far too early age. There was an article that suggested Billie Eilish’s new image was her embracing their sexual confidence. Sexual confidence and self-confidence shouldn’t be confused as the same thing. Sexual confidence comes with experience and is something acquired over a period of time. For many young adults, finding self-confidence is a struggle in itself. As women, we are free to do with our bodies as we please; this focus applies to both sexes. However, society is notorious for the hypersexualization of teens, young adults, and women. Often using various psychological marketing techniques particularly targeted at young, impressionable children.
Sociology and human behavior
Anthropologists study the social science of Structural functionalism, Symbolic interaction theory, and conflict theory to understand better how society functions. Structural functionalist theory observes complex systems by identifying what factors promote solidarity and stability. These studies provide insight into understanding the interactions between people that result in successful social developments that limit conflict. Herbert Blumer first introduced symbolic theory interaction, a sociologist who studied the interactions between people and the influence of symbolic integration study theorized interactions with other people through shared experiences like body language, which he believed helped us identify others and, in return, reflect our own identity
The psychology of marketing
With the rise of digital marketing, interest in consumer behavior is drastically increasing. Marketing psychology has become the cornerstone for helping businesses run successfully. Marketing psychologists operate differently than other fields of psychology. Their role is to observe behavior without interfering, then accumulate quantitive and qualitative data. They then present this data back to cooperations as a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal. Companies then begin to alter their policies and change their marketing strategies based on that information to increase profitability.
The sole purpose of a marketing psychologist is to anticipate buyer behavior, similar to how stockbrokers analyze fluctuations within the stock market. Although their metrics differ, their primary goal is to ensure companies maximize profit. Marketing psychologists study our cognitive biases to understand what drives decision-making. Marketing psychology, therefore, applies theoretical knowledge to the marketing field, digital marketing then uses the data and applies it to optimize their marketing strategies. This can be used for, Advertisements or for the purpose of rebranding.
Before millions of dollars are invested into a particular sector, a lawyer will draw up a contract.The sole purpose of a contract is to act as a tool for structuring the relationship and to record what parties have agreed to do for and with each other. However, Record labels typically set the terms and conditions of artist contracts in their favor. Meaning the label can have full creative control in terms of an artist’s song choice and image. So even if an artist does decide to change their image it’s unlikely they did so on their own since they are a product under contract.-with the purpose to generate money for investors. It’s impossible to know for sure whether someone like Billie Eilish chose to change her image on her own or if it was forced upon her by her record label. However, based on what we have seen in the past with various other artists, there’s a lot of data to support claims of hypersexualization and exploitation.
Rebranding an artist, who has the final say
In 1985 Michael Jackson acquired the ATV Catalog; this meant he owned the copyright to 250 Beatles songs after Paul McCarthy wanted an investor for his music publishing firm. Micheal Jackson thought it was criminal that black artists never owned their own music. In a move that outraged Sony, Micheal Jackson gifted black artists the rights to their own music.Many artists are often controlled and sexually objectified; however, since they are under contract, they cannot leave. Most record labels also own the masters to an artist’s work. Owning your master’s gives you the legal rights to freely appropriate and distribute your content. With a master recording, you can license the recording to third parties, such as films, commercials, or sampling. Without owning your masters, your life’s work never actually belongs to you. Ultimately, you remain under the control of an industry that made you.
Why do companies rebrand- (acquisition)
“They say it takes 10 years of dedication to become an overnight success. This phrase is largely due to all of the things that the public is blissfully unaware of” Tylor Allen
Many businesses change their brand once every seven to ten years. This often involves changing the logo, the visual language, and overall style of a company. Billie Eilish’s debut song was released in 2016. Therefore her rebranding does appear rather out of the ordinary in terms of market strategizing. Although there is usually one main reason for making a change, the motivation behind a rebrand project is often a combination of several factors.
When rebranding occurs suddenly, that’s often the result of mergers and acquisitions due to different investors. Different investors often bring different visions for a company. Therefore rebranding is a form of redefining a particular product or person. Some investors may expect you to cut ties with previous investors immediately. That can mean replacing an old look with a new one. However, reframing strategies are for an entirely different article since it involves things like repositioning, change of CEO, Internationalisation, etc
After years of exposure to sexual images and suggestive content, you’d think we’d become desensitized to sexual images. However, something far more complex happens to our brain when we see sexual imagesWhen we are exposed to sexual or suggestive content, our brain signals the release of dopamine. Our bodies are hard-wired that way since our main purpose as a species is for the purpose of procreation.
Dopamine is primarily associated with learned behaviors. However, new research suggests that our dopamine response can change when we change certain behaviors. Reward-based behavior (classical learning) is often associated with the dopamine response. Meaning our actions often depend on the reward we receive; if something feels good, we are more likely to repeat it. However, the neurological frenzy that occurs is not subject to only sexual images but also anything we view as attractive. Thus sex is often used as an effective marketing strategy because it garners attention when paired with attractive people. And in a world where numbers equate to money, it’s a money-making strategy old as time.
Is hyper-sexualization still marketable?
Many people will remember Britney’s transition from girls next door to becoming one of the world’s most desired women, seen as the embodiment of the ultimate sex symbol. There was a lot of outrage due to its sexual undertone. Although the music video appeared innocent, Britney Spears was sixteen and styled to embody the ultimate male fantasy. However, to remain non-bias, I can’t deny the music video’s success. From a marketing perspective, the video made sense; however, millions in profit appear to come with the price of exploitation and over-sexualization.
Although sexual desire is often one of man’s weaknesses, there are also many other things people crave, power, self-gratification, control, etc. There’s an interesting connection between desire, obtainability, and frustration. Desire actually makes us uncomfortable; when we experience it, we don’t like it since we have less control of our emotions. When we experience desire, we may feel manipulated. However, desire actually only works on someone who already desires a particular thing.
The reality is that no one wants something that they don’t already desire. Marketing Corporations don’t force people to do anything. They identify weaknesses and character flaws that already exist within us, things such as greed, vanity, jealousy, love, hate, and desire, and then they exploit it. The book the art of seduction, written by Robert Greene explores the relationship between desire and temptation; he explains that people don’t hate the feeling of desire per se, but rather that they can not give in to it. Wanting something we can not have is both frustrating and intoxicating. Most products are marketed to us this way.
Female vs. men, whos more sexually exploited in society?
In women Sexual objectification occurs when a woman’s body and her sexual body parts, along with their functions, are viewed separately from her as an entire person (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997; Gervais, Vescio, & Forster, 2012).
Gelles and Straus (1979) defined violence as “any act carried out with the intention of, or perceived intention of, causing physical pain or injury to another person.” Similarly, the National Research Council (NRC) report Understanding and Preventing Violence (Reiss and Roth, 1993
Sexual objectification occurs when something makes us feel uncomfortable or exposes us to possible violence or harm. This can be both physical or psychological. The exact number of violence against women is often disputed. However, data indicates that millions of women around the world experience victimization and violence of some form. “The term violence against women has been used to describe a wide range of acts, including murder, rape, sexual assault, physical assault, emotional abuse, battering, stalking, sexual harassment, and even exploitation of women in ‘pornography.”
Although this article focused primarily on women both sexes are subject to dealing with sexual objectification, this is not just in the entertainment industry but also within society. A significant number of sexual violence incidents are also experienced by men. Rape was once thought to be and defined as a crime committed solely against females, However, sexual crimes are experienced by both sexes albeit more common with women. However, data is limited since men are less likely to discuss topics like rape, assault, and abuse. Many men who are victims of sexual assault will often deny their victimization, similar to female victims due to fear and judgment.
Desire vs. affordability-index- when sex is no longer marketable
At least a few factors affect how someone or something is marketed: Demand and affordability are often determined before any product is launched. Market research needs to indicate interest and desire (willingness) and affordability index for something to sell. The affordability index is a measure of an average person’s ability to purchase a particular item. Topics like sex will always garner some form of attention; however, it no longer has the same impact it did a decade ago. Noticeable sociological shifts are happening within society that favors body positivity and opposes hypersexualized forms of marketing that exploit people.
Thus sex no longer works as it used to; today’s youth generations don’t want to be objectified, often using social media to voice their disdain towards brands or corporations that send the wrong message. Today, sex alone doesn’t sell, and that a good thing. Self-confidence, empowerment, body positivity, and mental wellness have become the main focus for companies. Over the years, we have seen the impact of early exposure to adult content and its effect on a young child’s psyche. Sexual objectification can cause many psychological issues; Objectification more broadly means treating a person as a commodity or an object. People are not objects.
Sexual objectification is a prevalent societal issue that can lead to internalizing and an objectified perspective of the
body. Society and the media shape us in many ways; for decades, Its influenced how we perceive and interact with others. Body shaming is not constructive; it’s dehumanizing and creates toxicity. Many people no longer tolerate the over-sexualization and exploitation of children, men, and women. Times are changing; we’re becoming more aware of the problems long-term exposure to social media and false advertising does to our mental health.